Sunday, February 26, 2012

Blog 64 - 27th February

Transtioning from minus 15 to plus 25 was quite a surprise however, we are grateful that there is no jetlag as Korea and Australia are on roughly the same time zone. Here is a view of our home from the kitchen table.

Views of our garden which is 200 metres deep, backing onto the Torrens river that runs through the centre of Adelaide. Damien is beginning at the front gate and working his way to the back...

Gathering to commemorate the one year anniversary of my Dad's dying was special, not least because it provided a great opportunity to catch up with my family all together on the day we returned.
Here we are preparing for Mass at Mum's home - pretty special and thanks to Monsignor Aitken. Dad would have loved it!

My three sisters and auntie, in the kitchen preparing a big Lebanese feast. What a treat, and a welcome change from noodles and rice! We did enjoy Korean cuisine however such foods as this were almost impossible to find.

You name it, we had it! Kibbi, tabouleh, falafel, chicken and rice, babaganoush, hummus, flat break, yoghurt... Yummm!

The follwing day my sister, Paula, had another feast at her home for Dad and for our extended family. Here I am with our son Dominic, and Paula in her kitchen. Below is Dad's favourite - licorice. For Damien and I it was another treat as it is impossible to buy licorice in Korea and it was always top of the list of things to bring back!

Damien looking very trim in spite of tucking into pavlova.

As we resettle into Adelaide and Australia, I am struck by the casualness of people, many look like they are going to the beach all the time! In spite of a population of 1.3 million, there seem to be few people around in this flat and friendly city where summer sees blue skies and sunshine most days. While I miss Seoul and my friends there I also am relishing in familiarity and food, understanding how things work and also being able to easily have conversations in English. Perhaps the known and familiar will become mundane after a while, however at the moment, it is fun and freeing.

Stay posted for the next blog on Koreans in Adelaide.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Blog 63 - 23rd February 2012

Here is the view from our apartment window as we await the packers on the coldest Seoul day for 55 years - minus 17 degrees. Brrrr....!

Damien preparing himself for the onslaught - removalists in the morning and people coming to collect their goodies in the afternoon.

We counted 21 boxes that are somewhere on the high seas by now. A bit of free advertising here!

Our lives were dismantled within two days! After spendng two years making a home, gathering things to make a comfortable life, everything went in such a short time - car, fridge, washing machine, stove, furniture, bedding, pots and pans, glasses and utensils, printer and plants. We are so pleased that our things have gone to good homes.

Lee and Heather have our car and lots of kitchen stuff as they move into their new apartment on campus. Lee is originally from Port Augusta in South Australia and we look forward to seeing him and his family in Adelaide at some future time.

Our friends, Kwang Soon and Julia, taking more than a bucket - our fridge and washing machine have found a happy home in their new apartment. All the best with the move and settling.

There goes that wonderful three seater couch where we had such great snoozes. Somehow having a nap on the lounge is such a lovely indulgence.

Hilary and Pilar come to collect the last of our plants. With the cold winter it is a challenge to keep them healthy, however we know they will take care of them.

An Italian academic at SNU, Gabrielle and his daughter collected the bed that many of you have slept on.

Is this all for me? As she moves from a cot to her first bed, Dorothea and Gabrielle's 's daughter looks a bit bewildered by it all.

One mop and computer chair were all that remained of our home.

The icing on the cake was one person who had agreed to collect our stove and was very keen to do so. After negotiating to collect it at 7.30pm, exhausted by the day's activities, we finally gave up calling her at 10.00pm and went to bed at SNU Hoam House accomodation. The phone woke us at midnight with this young woman calling from outside in a big black Mercedes to collect the stove! Dazed, I quickly dressed and tramped across the road in the snow to sell the stove for $40. And to think that I had renegotiated the price down from $50! Was it that I will do anything for money or that I was too sleepy and stunned to refuse? What a crazy thing - felt like a dream (or a nightmare!)

As we prepared to leave our home in Seoul, there were many farewell meals. My Freiburg friend, Franziska cooked me a traditonal meal with freshly imported German ingredients. Here I am feasting on semmel, kuodel, blaukraut and blaukraut in her beautiful apartment. What a treat - thank you so much Franziska!

Our last visitor was Mark our upstairs neighbour as he was passing through on his way from Japan back home to Paris. He is also retiring and we wish you fulfilment and joy as you embark on this new journey. We have counted 12 different groups of visitors during our 2 years in Seoul, totalling 23 individual friends. How lucky are we?

Jo and Emma from my Korean book group took me on a walk to Yongsan Park and around Icheon, their local area, then to eat traditional New Year rice cake soup called dukgook and drink soju. Here we are together.

As we leave from Inchoen airport it is easy to see why the Airport Council International has nominated it for seven consecutive yeras as among the global leaders.

Can you see Damien with his hat on saying goodbye?

As we leave Seoul we are privileged to have experienced such a challenging, interesting and wonderful time, to have made such good friends and to have learned what it means to live in a new culture. So many times I was reminded of Judoo and Sittoo, my grandparents who migrated from Lebanon where the script and language are so different too. Being a minority where we are constantly trying to understand how things work, I return to comfortable and familiar surroundings with renewed admiration for migrants everywhere. I leave Korea richer personally and professionaly and am grateful to Damien for his openness to new opportunities and also to Koreans for welcoming us so warmly.